Monday, August 13, 2012

The terrible costs of being a woman

Sadly, pretty much everyone in this country knows that women still earn less than men. It's shameful. But the hidden side of this, what's equally shameful but which most people don't know or think about, is that it simply costs more to be a woman. Jezebel has a pretty decent list about what it costs to have a vagina. I say "pretty decent" because, let's face it, you don't need all the things on that list all the time. When's the last time you bought condoms and birth control? UTI's suck, but it's not like we get them constantly. So yes, these are often costs which women deal with waaaaaaaay more often than men, but not constantly.
However, that's just one part of your anatomy. Styling products, makeup, hair accessories, body lotion, hair dryers and straighteners.... There are so many products which we're told we "need". What do men buy? Shaving foam or lotion, razors, deodorant, soap, and shampoo. And all of those products are cheaper simply because they're marketed to men! Not only that, but men's razors are often sharper than women's because beard stubble is tougher than leg hair. I switched over to men's razors years ago and I figure I've probably saved at least $50-$100 over that time. It doesn't seem like much, but that adds up. When you factor in that I've stopped buying most of the other crap which gets sold to us ladies, that's a lot of money to be saved. No hair gel, hair spray, no electricity use for a blow dryer and/or hair straightener. I've pared down my list of what products I buy to clean myself up or slather on to this: soap, shampoo, some body lotion, and the stuff to mix up my own face moisturizer. That's all I really need.
As far as deodorant goes, yes it is more expensive to buy women's deodorant. I just solve that problem by not buying it at all. There are all sorts of recipes online for making your own using baking soda. I don't do anything complicated, I simply get the tips of two fingers on each hand wet, dip them in the baking soda, and apply to my underarms. Not only does it last all day (even when I'm biking hard or running) but I don't have any of that icky flowery smell that proclaims "I'm sweating so now you get to smell my deodorant".
Yep, I've stopped buying tampons and pads. The Diva Cup is amazing, and I'm trying to make converts of pretty much every woman I know. It's hard, because this topic doesn't usually come up in conversation. But I've told several people about them. I thought it would be super gross to deal with, but it's not. And it took me less than one full cycle before I got used to it. They say you're supposed to replace it every year, but I think that was some sort of health and safety something something. They're fine. I know people out there have been using them for over a decade.
These are all things simply to do with being a woman. But there are so many other products which are, at their root, gender neutral but which women are charged more for. For instance, here are the clothes you buy to cover yourself, which are almost always pricier than men's clothing and often not as durable. If I had smaller boobs, I'd probably stuff myself into men's plain black or white t-shirts. *Sigh* All you small-chested ladies, go for it! I've found that avoiding the women's section for socks brings some amazing finds. I have small feet, size 5.5. Women's socks are supposedly size 6-10, which means that they're really made for women with average sized feet and they're always too big for me. I thought that little girls' socks would be too small but I realized long ago that boys' socks are both cheaper than women's socks, and they're far more durable. Plus, they actually fit my feet! Total score.
If you have daughters and they're willing to go for it, you can buy them clothing made for boys. Little girls and little boys are effectively shaped the same until puberty. Why pay more for less durable clothing? Plus, you avoid all the overly-sexualized or materialistic girly clothing. (Seriously, they market short-shorts with things like "Sweetie" across the butt. To four-year-olds! Who buys that shit?)
I've found it particularly interesting that some things at the grocery store are being marketed specifically to women. Yogurt, anyone? Why is food suddenly a gendered item? Does everything really have to be specific to women or to men? The answer, really, is no. Marketers do this because they can make a lot of money. If it wasn't so prevalent, and if it didn't work so well, I'd just find it all sad. As it is, it pisses me off that women are so taken advantage of. I understand a lot of marketing tricks, but I know I'm not immune to them. I simply try to avoid marketing when I can, and to limit my exposure when I can't. That way my decisions about what to buy are based on what I actually want or feel I need rather than what I'm *supposed* to want or "need".

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